Recent events in Iran demonstrate the inherent failings and intrinsic vulnerability of any government based on a body of inflexible concepts and authoritarian beliefs. In this particular example, a fundamentalist Islamic government took shape in 1979 after a successful coup against the Shah of Iran whose government represented an old-style regime based on royalty and in many ways maintained by clearly colonial interests. As a reaction to the excesses of its recent past, the new authority imposed a code of behavior and ethics based on Sharia.
The leadership of this new government originally had popular support, for the Iranian people felt that they had reclaimed their nation from foreign influence. Over time, however, the decision to impose an inflexible standard of behavior on the individual lives of the Iranian people that was structured to intrude on the most intimate details of living and that promised harsh punishments for those who did not comply was bound to fail. This is especially true in a country where two-thirds of the population is under thirty-five years of age within an historic era where instant communication is widespread and has no geographic boundaries.
This authoritarian regime, led by fundamentalist religious clerics, is now decidedly on the horns of a dilemma. If they are to retain power, they have no recourse but to come down harshly on the opposition. This intractable behavior is yet another example in the sad history of human civilization of the utter waste of human resources and human potential that is a natural consequence of the unquenchable search for power. What makes it especially poignant is that this attempt to control human destiny in order to make life fit into a restrictive and unrealistic mold will ultimately collapse at no small cost.